Resistance leader in Woody Allen's Sleeper / FRI 1-1-10 / Abductor Sabine women / Play set entirely beauty parlor / Coin depicting Louis XVI

Friday, January 1, 2010

Constructor: Brad Wilber

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: none

Word of the Day: NICOL Williamson (25A: Williamson who played Hamlet and Macbeth on Broadway)

Nicol Williamson (born September 14, 1936) is a Scottish-born British actor who was described by English playwright John Osborne as "the greatest actor since Marlon Brando". [...] Williamson's Hamlet for Tony Richardson at The Roundhouse caused a sensation and was later transferred to New York and made into a film, with a cast including Anthony Hopkins and Marianne Faithfull. Faithfull later stated in her autobiography "Faithfull" that she and Williamson had had an affair while filming Hamlet. [...] When Williamson appeared in the 1981 film Excalibur, director John Boorman cast him as Merlin opposite Helen Mirren as Morgana over the protests of both actors; the two had previously appeared together in Macbeth, with disastrous results. It was Boorman's hope that the very real animosity that they had towards each other would generate more tension between them on screen. (wikipedia)

[Speaking of Marianne Faithfull, her recent album "Easy Come, Easy Go" is fabulous. I got it for my wife for Christmas.]

[Cover of "The Crane Wife 3" by The Decemberists]

Bloodbath. Slaughter. Not a pretty opening to the new year. I struggled not at all in the NE, a little in the SE, a lot in the SW, and an eternity in the NW. If I had only remembered the name of the damned horse part, my time could have been cut in half; without it ... freefall. Horrible, nauseating, I'm-never-going-to-finish free fall. Without the "W" from WITHERS (1A: Part of a horse between the shoulder blades), I could think of only HOODIES for 1D: Some winter wear (woolens). For the Longest time I had ONE O'CAT (14A: Quaint game with a giver and a striker) and OF NO USE and virtually nothing else in that NW corner. NICOL was nobody to me. ERNO was nobody to me (22A: Resistance leader in Woody Allen's "Sleeper"), IN FOR IT was invisible (2D: Sure to be grounded, say), HOODOO was ... DOOM something? I don't even remember (4D: Bring bad luck to). My one good guess (which I was completely unsure of) was STY at 29A: Foul territory? Otherwise, just horrible. Embarrassing. Here is a very, very fitting song for my bout with this puzzle...

But leaving the NW aside, the puzzle was clearly Saturday-hard throughout. I'm not sure who thought it was a Friday. Only a couple people have times showing at the NYT website that seem Fridayish. Mostly, it looks like a toughish Saturday rolled through there. As I look through the grid, there's not much that is utterly unfamiliar to me: ERNO, NICOL and AL RITZ are about it (23A: Eldest of a trio of comic brothers in 1930s-'40s films). It's the vague, terse, or deliberately misleading cluing that made it so hard to get traction anywhere. Guessed PFIZER right away (8A: Xanax maker) and the NE fell shortly thereafter. "Z"s are so handy! But when I tried to come across ... I had 19A: Pot cover. This is an example of what I'd call a "slant clue." In poetry, a "slant rhyme" is a rhyme that isn't one. Not really. Only in the most tenuous sense of the word. A slant clue is defensible, but groanworthy. "Covering," I might have bought. "Cover" is just ridiculous. So TEFLON didn't show up. Took some hacking, but eventually got the long Downs to fall, starting with POLITICAL ... something at 15D: City hall, often (ended up being ARENA). After much cogitation, "STEEL MAGNOLIAS" sprang to mind for 7D: Play set entirely in a beauty parlor — I had the "STE" to start. Didn't know it was a play.

But over and over, there was stuff that just refused to come easily. Figured answer to 34D: With 35-Down, Mocha is on it would be an island. But no. RED SEA. Thought 39A: Dieter's concern might be WEIGHT. No. INTAKE. As with STY, ADAGIO came to me but I never did trust it until I got several crosses (this also happened with OR ELSE and IMBUE). I "malapopped" at 32D: One of Iowa's state symbols (oak) — wrote in OWL, which was wrong, but ended up being Right later on at 44A: Notable head-turner. Einstein's a what? He could be a billion things. I listed half a dozen off the top of my head, and none of them were EMIGRÉ (53A: Einstein, notably). You eat AIOLI with bouillabaisse?? (45A: Bouillabaisse go-with). An ALIMENT is ... a thing? 41D: Sustaining stuff — I know the adj. ALIMENTARY, but have never seen ALIMENT. Over and over the clues were far from forthcoming. FILIAL is not among my top ten love types (48A: Like some love). Which ENID are we talking about here (43A: She's a paradigm of patience)? ENID of Eric (Geraint?) and ENID? Yikes. Plantation makes me think "slavery" — also cotton and sugar. So I had CANE where BALE was supposed to go (36A: Plantation creation). How the bleepity bleep am I supposed to know the first Across word in the world's first crossword?? (52A: FUN!).

To continue: Had DOB for DUI (31D: Police blotter abbr.). LAZARUS came like a bolt from the blue (59A: New Testament miracle recipient) after I struggled to remember his damned name for what felt like ever; but then ... that juicy "Z" led me straight to the obvious (to me) IDOLIZE! Only ... it's somehow not IDOLIZE. LIONIZE!?!? Come on, you're killing me! My favorite clue/answer pair of the day was one that gave me fits: 36D: Mix on the range (beefalo). There are many meanings of "range." And many meanings of "Mix." I went through all of them. Still didn't get BEEFALO until I was staring at -EE-ALO. I honestly thought KALE might be the [Plantation creation], which was going to give me, what, KEEBALO? Uncle! ("Uncle Keebalo" = trickster god of puzzles; he hates you).


  • 27A: Its chapel was designed by Eero Saarinen, briefly (MIT) — I actually held a picture of EERO in my hand earlier in the evening. Three letters? I considered JFK, LGA ...
  • 33A: Dostoyevsky's exile city (Omsk) — -MS- made this obvious.
  • 51A: Time of Obama's swearing-in (MMIX) — more slant cluing. True, but you would say "year," not "time."
  • 54A: Elk's enemy (puma) — I had WOLF.
  • 60A: Great Dark Spot locale (Neptune) — not sure I knew this, but had so many crosses that it was obvious.
  • 5D: Coin depicting Louis XVI (ecu) — had SOU.
  • 8D: Choate ran with him in 1996 (Perot) — I know Choate as a prep school.
  • 9D: Half of a recurring "Saturday Night Live" duo (Franz) — other half = Hans.

  • 10D: N.Y.C. transportation debut of 1904 (IRT) — just one of those answers I know from doing so many crosswords.
  • 11D: Movement Herman Wouk called "a single long action of lifesaving" (Zionism) — Thank you, PFIZER.
  • 20D: Clown's over-the-top topper (fright wig) — great answer. Clue ... a little too cocky.
  • 40D: Abductor of the Sabine women (Romulus) — my mythology plumb gave out on me. I could see the painting of "The Rape of the Sabine Women," but couldn't recall who was doing the raping (which here, yes, means "abducting").

Happy New Year everyone. Talk to you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


lit.doc 3:24 AM  

Well here's a first (nuevo flamenco band stopped at 11:00, so what's a boy to do?). Thank you, Rex, for posting early, and thanks for solving this rabid puppy, as I was going bonkers on it. Well after the Across Lite clock was guilt-mongering red, I gave up with 17 unfilled squares. Yes, Saturday (at least) hard.

In NW, had E_U. ECU?! What is this, graduate crosswordese? In W, had REGULAR instead of ANGULAR, which was, I guess, better than the SLENDER with which I began. Kiss ENID and BALE (oh puhleeze!!) goodbye.

In E/SE, started with 51A NOON (unclued RRNs!!) and 60A JUPITER (dark, not red! RTFC!!) And Holy Roman Empire for 40A, which is correct but not helpful here. Had ARTISTS for 62A (which quashed the otherwise obvious and useful IMPUTE), abetted by 15, 50, 40, and 42 down, but was screwed nonetheless.

Am I out of line here to start a kvetch about ONE O'Cat?? There's graduate crosswordese, and then there's "WTF?". Is there no limit??

And good morning to all who had the sense to go to bed.

Parshutr 6:55 AM  

I'm really becoming convinced that I'm close to Rex's complete opposite. The very first word I put in was WITHERS, with complete confidence. I also knew NICOL, PFIZER, RASTA, and ADAGIO, EPAULET, PERRINE, IGO, ENID, LAZARUS and NEPTUNE.
I was screwed up in the SE, with NOON instead of MMIX and WOLF instead of PUMA, but erased those after putting in EPAULET and NEPTUNE.
So, on the whole, I'd rate this pretty easy, especially for a Saturday.
And so it goes.

edith b 7:15 AM  

STEELMAGNOLIAS was a neon for me and started the ball rolling. I'm a fan of reading movie reveiews in the Times so when I saw this movie in the theatres with my girlfriends I already knew a great deal about this movie. My movie-going friends call me Ms. Movie because of this penchant. I knew the movie was based on a play set solely in a beauty shop.

I knew the actor NICOL Williamson - another neon- and we just recently rented "The Electric Horseman" so I had most of the pop culture clues in place in the North.

It's funny that my mind went right to the Ritz Brothers but it took me forever to get this one because I was looking for some variant of Albert as an answer.

This turned into an over-nighter because,like Rex, I had LIONIZE in the SW. It wasn't until I got ANGULAR that I remembered reading an article about the history of crossword puzzles and unearthed FUN and got BEEFALO that led to the end of this one.

Heavy on the popular culture clues so this one was right up my alley and I had less trouble than I ordinarily would have.

Ruth 8:27 AM  

I was looking for a New Year's theme of some sort--I know it's Friday, but just a hint of one, maybe. I guess MMIX was it. MMIX is also "instructions by a TV chef with a stammer." Goodbye 2009.

Van55 8:51 AM  

Borderline unfair.

MMIX????? Pah!

Happy new year, anyway.

Sabine 9:09 AM  

I was "Abducted" by this puzzle.

imsdave 9:21 AM  

MITTENS, FETTERS, IDOLIZE, SOU, VACANCY, WOLF - These did not enhance my solving experience. I remembered everything about STEELMAGNOLIAS except for the name. I finally Julie'd it and all became clear.

Good workout to start the new year.

Happy New Year everyone

VaBeach puzzler 9:30 AM  

Happy New Year! This was indeed a challenging start-off. I left most of the south blank. Then, in that mysterious way the brain works (or doesn't), I came back an hour later and finished up the puzzle in about 5 minutes. Wish we could walk away and come back at the tournament.... BTW, I never heard of Al Ritz or Hamlet's Williamson (I wanted him to be a Nigel).

Wade 9:36 AM  

WIlber rawks. I loved this puzzle. Best one of the year. Agree it was hard and Saturday level, maybe even hard Saturday level--I got only about 7/8 through it last night and finished up the rest this morning in pretty short order. I like the characterization of the clues as "slant clues," and I like those kinds of clues the best. If I'd been doing this one on paper there would hardly be a single unwritten-over square. I'd get several answers filled in completely except for one or two letters, and still the answer wouldn't be obvious (to me, anyway.) I had INF_R_T for a long time and couldn't translate "Ready to fire" into a verb phrase so didn't see LOAD, and so on. The only gimme on the first pass was PERRINE and, just between the two of us (we can make it if we try) a strong suspicion that 1A was WITHERS. This was like a best-of crossword tricks--the slant-clues and the two-word phrases that don't give their other half away when you get one of the words (had "political" but not the "arena" part.) Hardly any clue was straight across the plate, but all were over the plate. Only a couple "_________?" clues, which is fine by me.

Leslie 9:43 AM  

Wow. I so agree on the "Challenging" assessment!

I did not want to give up on "idolize," which left me puzzled on the West Coast, but hey--that was better than my completely bare, empty, only-the-sound-of-the-waves-and-sea-gulls East Coast. I mean, nada for the longest time! ORATORS helped break it open in the NE and NEPTUNE in the SE. I figured 60A was a planet, but really, really wanted to write "Mercury."

I thought ADAGIO was a musical term only--didn't know it could also be a dance term.

Interesting, the two reference to New Testament miracles. And that this old sinner could get both LAZARUS and the LEPER? I guess they're both very well known.

I liked unusual fill like ROUGHCAST, FILIAL, TENANCY, WITHERS, and so on. But definitely a Saturday-level puzzle!

babslesley 9:49 AM  

Started this in 2009, and finished it this morning, in the year 2010. I too had trouble with the NW. I really didn't like some of the clues, too numerous to mention. But whenever I finish a Friday puzzle, it's a good day.

Unknown 9:59 AM  

I totally agree with everyone. How can that be??? I managed to finish the entire puzzle except for one freakin' word - "Erno" the robot. Had to use a filmography book to get that! THEN - only then to find out I'd been brought low by 28A&D!! I had "nsec" cause I never heard of "msec" so my "zinger" was a "not" not a "mot." Wot? Enuf!!

Slashdotcom 10:00 AM  

There's a point in the occasional puzzle solving experience when, if I'm half an hour in and have nothing at all that I can confirm or feel certain about (with the exception of a few gimmes), I just throw in the towel and come here to look at the completed grid and marvel.

This was one of those days. Maybe it's the hangover.

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

For me this was a rare puzzle I couldn't finish even with google, in part because I had SLENDER next to ELEVATE ... knew one was wrong but couldn't figure out which one (when both are wrong).

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

I had Steel Magnolias but I do not remember it as being entirely set in a beauty I wrong?

also had alot of same wrong answers as Rex: idolize, wolf, etc.

thought it was tough myself.

Happy New Year to all solvers;
esp Rex

Rex Parker 10:12 AM  

I just realized that in all my expressions of frustration, I didn't really convey that I thought the puzzle was good. When I exclaim "Come on!?" it's half righteous indignation and half "man, you got me. Good."

And yes, slant clues have their diabolical charm.


Ben 10:18 AM  

Tough, tough, tough but fun, fun, fun and I'm done, done, done. Great puzzle, Brad Wilber.

Like @VaBeachPuzzler, I ground through most of it last night until I hit a bunch of walls. Knew that an Ambien and eight solid hours of sleep would do the trick. They did!

Worked out very well with my antisocial New Year's Eve: having gone out the previous few nights, I avoided the revelry so I could be well-rested for my alma mater Northwestern football Wildcats' 10am bowl game.

As usual on Fri-Sat, I had a very similar experience to Rex's. Found the NW bedeviling. Took forever to remember WITHERS. Had NOSE for the resistance leader (wasn't he reduced to a nose at one point? Or maybe that was the dictator they were resisting). Couldn't decide whether the "grounded" party was a misbehaving kid or a faulty plane. STEEL MAGNOLIAS and EMIGRE took way too long. Same with FILIAL: I had FINITE.

I've heard of the Ritz Brothers but they mean little to me. For ALRITZ I had ____TZ and somehow couldn't get past the Katzenjammer Kids even though I felt sure there were only two of them, thought their names might be Hans and Fritz and wasn't sure whether they were ever in the movies.

Felt pretty sure it was NICOL but hated the O in that spot because to me it implied something ending in TO, but the word TO was in the clue.

I have been heard to complain around here that a Friday puzzle was too easy for a Friday (e.g. last week). This one would qualify as a challenging Saturday puzzle. I love it. Keep 'em coming!

Happy new year, everyone.

joho 10:28 AM  

Oddly enough the first thing I filled in was OFNOUSE. Because that's exactly how I felt about my brain while solving this puzzle.

It felt like it took me a year to finish this most challenging beast ... oh, wait, it did ... from 2009 to 2010 as @babslesley commented.

I was most proud of finally changing idOlIZE to LIONIZE which allowed me to complete the insane NW. Absolutely loved BEEFALO.

I was not mistake free as I unfortunately had niT for MOT. nSEC seemed right even though I knew iMSK was not!

Hey, the good news is, I have no where to go but up in the New Year!

Thank you Brad Wilbur for a great puzzle!

I said it before, but again, I wish everybody here a prosperous, healthy New Year!

And, I especially thank Rex for the creation and continuation of this most interesting, entertaining blog.

Jeffrey 10:32 AM  

What Wade said.

Gnat Birnbaum 10:35 AM  

Very tough puzzle, only Withers I know is Bill Withers of "Lean On Me" fame. I was dead from one across.

Loved seeing Erno which reminds me of my favorite line in Sleeper: "What do I believe in? Sex and death. Two things that come once in a lifetime."

JC66 10:43 AM  

Agree with those who found this a really tough one.

For example, even after completing the puzzle (45 mins), I couldn't parse ALRITZ until I came here.


Again, HAPPY NEW YEAR, everyone.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:47 AM  

I really sweated over this one but refused to give up. Great job, Brad Wilber!

A few write-overs, mostly discussed already: WOOLIES/WOOLENS, IDOLIZE/LIONIZE, AIRLIFT/ZIONISM ("a single long action of lifesaving" -- seemed reasonable with nothing around it!), NOON/MMIX, JUPITER/NEPTUNE (there goes my science cred!)

BTW, just to the left of the puzzle in the printed NYTimes is a review of a book, The Lexicographer's Dilemma - The Evolution of "Proper" English, From Shakespeare to "South Park". I thought it might address some of the questions that arise on the blog from time to time, and perhaps the book does, but the review is rather stingy with examples. The review does state that the author is very much on the side of the natural evolution of the language.

Greene 10:50 AM  

I really thought this puzzle was going to be easy when I started as WITHERS, PFIZER, NICOL, LAZARUS, OR ELSE, and STEEL MAGNOLIAS all plopped in easily on first pass. With that kind of traction, the NE and SW fell pretty quickly. I got stuck in the SW because I would not let go of IDOLIZE and thus, could not see FUN. When I finally got BEEFALO, I just stared dumbly at FUL. What the hell kind of crossword would have FUL as 1A??!! Geez, that's no FUN at all...Oh. I had to leave the SE for this morning because I could not see ROMULUS to save my life and AIOLI is unknown to me. Nothing like a butt-kicking from Brad Wilbur to start off the new year!

Okay, now a few theatre stories. I normally would not know a word like WITHERS, but looked it up in the dictionary years ago after hearing it in the score for Sondheim's Into the Woods. The Jack and the Beanstalk character and his mother are arguing about the need to sell his beloved pet cow. She sings:

There are bugs on her dugs.
There are flies in her eyes.
There's a lump on her rump
Big enough to be a hump!

We've no time to sit and dither,
While her WITHERS wither with her--
And no one keeps a cow for a friend!
Sometimes I fear you're touched.

I never caught any of NICOL Williamson's fabled Shakespearean performances, but I did catch him playing the title role in the Richard Rodgers musicalization of the life of Henry VIII (called Rex of all things) which ran briefly on Broadway in 1976. He was actually quite good in a pretty dismal show with a surprisingly unmemorable score. Like most flops, it did have one stunningly beautiful song, in this instance a ballad called "Away From You" which celebrated Henry's love for Anne Boleyn before...well, you know. It's hard to understand how this play failed as it had the three elements necessary for a successful musical: song, dance, and beheadings. Oh yeah, Glenn Close was in it too (as Princess Mary), but in those pre-Barnum years I had no idea who she was.

Apparently Mr. Williamson had a very fiery temperament and was none to pleased to appear in a flop. The story goes that one evening during the curtain calls one of the chorus members said "That's a wrap." Mr. Williamson misheard this as "That was crap" and slugged the fellow in full view of the audience. That may be apocryphal, but it's an awesome story.

And finally, STEEL MAGNOLIAS. I saw this off-Broadway in the late 1980s and it is indeed entirely set in Truvy's beauty salon (which is part of her house) and features only six female characters. Unlike the film version, the men are only talked about, they never actually appear in the play. The film is a fairly faithful adaption of the play and is one of those rare instances where I actually like the film more than the source material. There was an unnecessary Broadway revival in 2005 whose only reason for existence (IMO) was to tap into a sense of nostalgia people felt about the film. It was well cast and capably performed, but how are you going to compete with the star power of the film? Bottom line: you can't, so three months of half empty houses and out. The high schools do it all the time though. Six girls and one set? It could have been custom written for high school performance.

Unknown 10:57 AM  

Rex described my usual Friday solve. Tough parts, unknown parts, elusive parts with a few known items and some lucky guesses, but add 30+ minutes of quiet time and a solution emerges...not always a correct one.

My predictions for 2010. Some great puzzles, some new constructors, some controversial puzzles, some old constructors, some trolls, some new bloggers, and lots of fun from the discussions here. Thank you Rex.

Stan 11:00 AM  

Nothing like a good total, abject failure to start the decade with. Nowhere to go but up!

Jim H 11:07 AM  

Knew that "Ready to be fired" was a verb phrase (from the difficulty level!), but I wanted COCK instead of LOAD -- "confirmed" by IN FOR IT.

Wanted NSEC where MSEC went. Why is NOT a zinger? Oh, MOT... at least I never considered mu there. Thursday maybe, never Friday. Although, wasn't there a Saturday many years back where the four corners of the puzzle were rebus squares, filled with suit symbols? I think one of the answers was SAM(SPADE).

Glitch 11:14 AM  

For the same reasons as @parshutr, found this puzzle "medium +" but finished. I guess it is a wavelength thing.

Still bemused that, given the daily variations, why a challenging Friday "should have been" a Saturday, while an easy Saturday is seldom tagged as a Friday.

Seem mostly that chalenging levels appear a day or two early, while easy levels elicit "Best time ever for a _____!", or "Finally finished a _____" comments :)

@Bob K

I also read the review of The Lexicographer's Dilemma and was trying to think of a tactful way of recommending it to a couple of "regulars";)


Karen 11:15 AM  

Thought that plantation creation might be Tara. Googled a lot... Gave up and came here.

Happy New Year everyone!

Meg 11:18 AM  

I totally loved the "Mix on the range clue". I didn't know HOODOO was a verb, and I would really like an explanation of how AIOLI goes with bouillabaisse. I mean do you put it right in the stew or on the bread that you're eating (in which case the clue is wonky)?

@Bob: AIRLIFT was more than reasonable!

Hand up for IDOLIZE.

Happy New Year to all! It's parade time!

Anonymous 11:19 AM  

For "a single long action of lifesaving," I ended up with ZOONISM. Obviously, the belief in (animal) life.

Why not? Valerie and her "Electric Horseman" were complete unknowns, and PERRONE seemed no better and no worse than PERRINE.

archaeoprof 11:21 AM  

Felt like a Saturday. And not an easy Saturday.

Read 60A as "great red spot" at first and wrote "Jupiter."

mac 11:33 AM  

Great, great puzzle! My Waterloo was in the SE, mainly because of Romulus and MMIX.

Thought of Nanpilla (where is she?) with the withers, Greene with the plays. Remembered Valerie's face but had a hard time coming up with her name, and the same for the dead man at 59A. Thought of "enigma" for Einstein, Nigel for Nicol, and idolize, lion and wolf for puma. 1996 gave away Perot, a good thing because I also know Choate (Rosemary Hall) as a prep school. Of course I tried to stir things around on the range, love that clue/answer.

I got "of no use" and "in for it" right away and like them together in their corner.

@imsdave: love the "Julie'd it"!

New Year's clue and answer: 39A. Not until tomorrow!

Norm 11:37 AM  

Wonderful puzzle. Thought it was going be easy when the NW fell so quickly off of WITHERS, but had to work every step of the way after that with frequent/constant missteps and do-overs -- like AVATARS for ORATORS and trying to make MARRIAGE something work for 15D. The ALRITZ/FRANZ "Z" was the last letter for me and a total guess but what else could it have been ... so no Natick. Happy New Year everyone!

retired_chemist 11:39 AM  

Challenging. Yes indeed. But ultimately doable. In two stints. In different years.

WITHERS was a gimme (dogs have them too), ECU, NICOL, and RASTA plopped down on the grid, then PERRINE, PEROT, FRANZ, and ORATORS. PFIZER was then obvious (had been holding out to see if SEARLE fit), Guessed OMSK (don't know why or how), and - bingo - the entire north half fell rapidly, with a guess of R for AL _ITZ. With STEEL MAGNOLIAS and POLITICAL_____ to broach the south. This is going to be one of my best Fridays ever, I thought.

And thought. And thought. Nothing in the south. 51A NOON, 54A WOLF, 60A JUPITER. 40A NRA (who knows why?), a debate between ONE and EGO for 47A (with EGOES for 48D moving me toward ONE), and the waxing and waning of EPAULET @ 57A left me with ..... bu**er all to show for my efforts in the south.

OK, I said, I can do this. Erased everything I doubted. FIXATED on MR OBAMA for 55A, but knew it was wrong. Aha! ALI BABA fit - too well not to be right. Stopped thinking of possble real names for TOM MIX @ 36D, interpreted mix correctly, and BEEFALO was a definite. OTOH, soon REGULAR and IDOLIZE also were. Oops, then the crosses were really dicey or worse. Except I really did like BRIE as a plantation creation. My kind of plantation....

Whatever, the correct answers ANGULAR and LIONIZE appeared. And the SW was put to bed.

The SE was muddled by not having a clue about AIOLI (still do not see a connection with bouillabase) and MMIX (it's a year, Brad, not a time) until IMPUTE and a wild guess ROMULUS were in place. But that fixed everything.

A wonderful challenge to start the year.

Wade 11:51 AM  

Ret-chem, part of the puzzle that was unfinished for me this morning was 55A. I had the ending ABA last night but don't know squat about Ali Baba. My 7-year old son was looking over my shoulder as I finished up this morning. He also suggested Obama for 55A. So you're not alone.

miguel 11:54 AM  

I did some business in the south of France and fell in love with the rich fish stew called bouillabaisse and tried it in a dozen places. It always came with aioli, but the variations in taste were significant.

Glitch, I thought today's puzzle was between a double Sunday and triple Thursday.

mac 11:56 AM  

Aioli: garlicky mayonaise served with Bouillabaisse. You have it on the side and dab it on the fish as you spoon it out of the soup. Not sure if I used that verb correctly, but you get the picture.

The Corgi of Mystery 12:00 PM  

I actually thought the NW was the only section which didn't feel like a Friday -- I had HOODIES for a while, and AT FAULT for the longest time, with ONEOCAT/ERNO/NICOL complete mysteries (and eventual guesses). Despite my woes, I thought it was a very enjoyable themeless though.

nanpilla 12:11 PM  

I'm sitting in the airport again, waiting for my delayed flight to Philly (Is there any other kind of flight to Philly?) Withers obviously was a gimme, and I thought it was going to be a breeze - but definitely not! It's a good thing my flight was delayed because that allowed me to finish this thing before boarding.

Happy New Year, everyone, and thanks, Rex for providing this lively forum!

Stan 12:14 PM  

@joho: oops, I didn't mean to steal your comment without attribution (great minds think alike)

janie 12:14 PM  

adding fuel to the fire to greene's observation about mr. williamson's "fiery temperament," here's an account of an on-stage incident that occured during the playing of i hate hamlet in 1991.

top half of puzzle fell into place in a pretty straight-forward way -- but, oh, that south! it got me but good.

i take this to be a good thing!

happy new year, one and all!!


slypett 12:29 PM  

Rex: For once, I've got you. Uncle Keebalo (also sp. Kibalo)(d. 1943) was an old black man who lived on the outskirts of New Orleans. He was a noted voodoo practitioner who, for fifty cents, would put the HOODOO on your enemy.

JMack 12:35 PM  

Why today's Friday puzzle is more like a Saturday

I've often found puzzles on holidays to be far tougher than their non-holiday counterparts. And I love the experience of utter fear of failure followed by the gradual solving of a puzzle like this one!

dk 12:46 PM  

Lock and LOAD kids, we are off to a New Year.

As usual:

I could not remember how to spell AIOLI, went rummaging through the kitchen--no luck. Attracted the attention of Lovely Wife who looked at an empty 55a and said ALIBABA, what did he say that was so great... so I dodged a Wade for that one. My wife is also 7.

Had noon for the swearing in but knew it had to be FIXATE and ROMULUS. The little gray cells extrapolated -- Roman date--grasshopper.

One result of this blog is I now have the game ONEOCAT down. The rest of the fill was good and hard.

Fine start, in fact this is the best puzzle so far this year. Thank you Brad.

Must watch Sleeper.

**** (4 Stars)

chefbea 1:08 PM  

Tough tough puzzle. Like Karen - googled a lot and finally came here

Had mittens for the longest time for 1 down.

Happy new year to all - again. Enjoy your hoppin-john

Rex Parker 1:10 PM  

Uncle Keebalo practices ZOONISM. Or so I want to believe.

It's a amazing what a good, hard puzzle will do for the kwality of the comments section. Great day. Thx.


Anonymous 1:13 PM  

no joy in this puzzle for me. several names i never heard of -- or never would have gotten from the clues. obscure clues are fine with me, even better if they're witty, but some of these could equivalently have been clued 'noun' or 'thing'. after about 10 minutes, it was obvious this puzzle and i would not click, so off to the answer i went...

tomorrow will be better, i hope.

HudsonHawk 1:22 PM  

Rocked the NE, then....wide open spaces. Glad to see I wasn't alone. Brutal, but ultimately doable.

mccoll 1:25 PM  

Five stars for the puzzle, fewer for me.
@Retired Chemist I think this is the first puzzle I've ever done in two years. The grid looks like a battle zone. I had one google for Perrine and it took more than an hour to grind out the rest. Great clues and pretty fresh answers mark this as a Saturday level IMO. Everyone knows what withers and Beefalo are but aliment and ERNO are more arcane.
Wonderful write up and comments. Happy happy to all.

Chorister 1:31 PM  

Not much to say that hasn't been said better already, but I thought it WAS Saturday until somewhere around the third comment about it.

Another indication that my night was too late & involved champagne: reading abductor of Sabine women and immediately thinking Howard Keel.

Yes, its a good puzzle when you fight your way through it, look back over it, and wonder why you ever had so much trouble.

Whatever happens on New Years day is an indication of the year to come (assuming you also eat Black Eyed Peas & Hog Jowl) in my heritage, so here's to more great puzzles and great comments!

Clark 1:33 PM  

It's cold here in the middle of Wisconsin. I worked on the puzzle with the non-to-semi-puzzle gang that is celebrating the new year in a little house on the top of a hill in the middle of the woods. We had vast areas of undone stuff. Then everyone cleared out and left me to finish it in peace. Changing 'Jupiter' to NEPTUNE, remembering ONE-O-CAT, seeing LAZARUS and ALIBABA let everything fall into place.

I didn't know about AIOLI and bouillabaisse, but the other folks here did.

Happy New Year everyone.

PlantieBea 1:33 PM  

What a great start to the new year. Thanks Brad Wilber for the challenge. The whole south fell without too much stress, but the north...ay yay. I had WITHERS and WOOLENS, but not knowing HOODOO and NICOL mucked up that area. Had to google for PFIZER and AL RITZ to get the other corner. Lots of miracles, like BEEFALO, LAZARUS, LEPER, LIONIZE (started with idolize too), AIOLI, and EPAULET helped in the south. One year ago, I would not have completed this...but I'm glad that I made it through this one in a new puzzle year--even with a few cheats.

Happy New Year to all!

joho 1:34 PM  

@stan ... that's sweet. Actually I'm glad you commented because I went back to reread my post and saw an error: I meant insane SW not NW. So thank you!

@dk ... good one, the best of the year!

miriam b 1:41 PM  

I retreated this morning to my cubbyhole behind the upright freezer and had a very enjoyable time with this puzzle. I would rate it Medium/Challenging.

@retiredchemist: Somehow WITHERS popped up immediately and got me to thinking; it occurred to me that although quadrupeds don't have shoulders, they do have scapulae. I became curious as to whether the space between a cat's shoulder blades is ever called WITHERS, but I found no such reference. Cats are measured in length - nose to rump - so I suppose their height at the shoulder blades is immaterial in establishing standards.

Polly (my polydactyl cat) is walking n the keyboard with all 23toes, trying to obliterate this message, so I'd better post before she succeeds.

Lon 1:47 PM  

I spent more time reading RP's write-up and all the posts here than I did on the puzzle itself.

Not uncommon.

I must be a fanatic.

slypett 1:50 PM  

WITHERS, somehow, was a neon. After that things got nasty. I had to fight for almost everything and even then finished with two faults. I'm still not sure if I had fun with this one: There were lots of aah moments, but few ahas.

Maybe that's what I get for skipping my morning workout.

retired_chemist 2:02 PM  

@ miriam b - nice to see you back. LOL about Polly's 23 toes.

Interestingly, cats and dogs DO have clavicles but they are rudimentary and free-floating. So, as you said, no shoulders.

Anonymous 2:06 PM  

Maybe I was more focused than usual, working at 1:00AM, waiting for the neighborhood bombardments to quit, but it was on the medium side of challenging for me. Other than Enid (Google) and Romulus (Google to get off the "Romans" mindset), I was able to get most everything by memory or crosses. Pretty close to most of my Fridays. Felt bad about Romulus, should've known!
Happy New Year to you all.

jae 2:09 PM  

Tough one. An overnight for me also but finished error free. My experience pretty much mirrored Rex's, and I ditto what Crosscan said about what Wade said. And, thanks mac for the AIOLI explanation.

BTW-I like the concept of slant clues.

Tinbeni 2:10 PM  

Just started doing NYT last Monday, a much harder CW test.

Liked the AIOLI, MMIX & ROMULUS crossings in the SW, an Italian flavor/mix.

BEEFALO got a smile, OMSK a grin

NE punted me into the weeds (ugh).

I'll keep trying.

Anonymous 2:12 PM  

@imsdave and @mac:

"Julie'd it"???

Parshutr 2:20 PM  

One other bit of trivia. There's a moment in "Excalibur" when NICOL Williamson is looking straight into the camera...which you can see reflected in the convex forehead covering in the photo on the blog. Not just the camera, but the light on top of it.

mac 2:21 PM  

I've met Dave's wife, Julie.

Shamik 2:25 PM  

If this is what is in store for 2010, bring it on! Loved this puzzle for many reasons already stated. My goal is to have my time somewhere in the top 100...a feat accomplished about 75% of the time. Not this time, but I am so ok with that since Rex called it challenging. Loved all the slanted clues.

Played hokey pokey with WITHERS right from the beginning. My slant was having the SW, center and NE filled in first.

Wanted NINEOCAT, but couldn't squeeze it into 7 squares. Was USELESS for OFNOUSE. Put me in the NIGEL for NICOL camp. Wanted to ADULATE instead of LIONIZE. Wanted JUPITER for NEPTUNE, but didn't think anything with town halls would end in JA unless we're in Mexico. And ROMULUS did something after being twinned with REMUS and raised, not by a PUMA, but a wolf or lobo? Iowa's symbol isn't an OAR? Took off the MITTENS and SNOPANT and replaced with WOOLENS.

Loved it. Loved it. Loved it.

@Wade: Thanks for the cluing to see that "Ready to be fired" was a verb phrase.

@Glitch: LOL and agree with your bemusement regarding how challenging for the day doesn't reverse in the easy direction.


JaneW 2:43 PM  

Completed the puzzle with no errors (in the end), no googling, but it took a lot of time--some false starts, lots of answers only deduced from crosses. My second-to-last correction was LIONIZE instead of IDOLIZE (I see that I was not by any means the only one to fall for that misdirection).

Very LAST letter, the Z in AL RITZ and FRANZ, was supplied by my husband -- he knew about the Ritz brothers. We both watched SNL in the 70s but haven't watched lately (say, in the last ten or 20 years). Otherwise, I wouldn't have been able to finish.

Kept thinking it was Saturday this morning! I'm a little afraid of what Saturday may have in store.

fergus 2:57 PM  

Perfect puzzle for this nice slow moring. Even with an hour elapsed there was an awful lot of white space left, and quite a few write-overs. Aside from the many common errors I had BOOTIES for the Winter wear, and almost left VOODOO in. Also, I kept on wanting to enter HEROISM where ZIONISM fell ...

edmcan 3:03 PM  

Pretty proud of myself for only two words from Rex. I liked it, but, ouch!

Sarah 3:09 PM  

This one was HARD! ZIONISM was a gimme for me, but I started off with FETLOCK instead of WITHERS even though I knew it was wrong (it's by the leg not the shoulders) because it's the only piece of specialized horse anatomy I could think of. I've seen NICOL Williamson on stage, but couldn't wrest the name from the back of my brain (somehow, Corin Redgrave was stuck there). ALRITZ? Oh please. Thank God for Hans and FRANZ and RASTA (chronologically easier clues for me), or I would have been totally sunk. Unlike yesterday, which was a nice challenge and fun, this was just a slog, with no really enjoyable clues (and the less said about LIONIZE the better).

joho 3:10 PM  

@Ben ... rats! We were so close to winning!

treedweller 3:22 PM  

Brutal. Third consecutive fail. Cringing at the thought of tomorrow.

retired_chemist 3:24 PM  

@ Wade or others - I am not sure what is meant by a "slant clue." Is it one which can have multiple slants, cf. the ONE/EGO dichotomy for "I" @ 47A? Or.... what?

dk 3:32 PM  

See what we post:


Ben 3:56 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle, I too wanted NOON at first for swearing-in time.

@LitDoc, I have no problem with ONEOCAT. It's not an everyday term but although antiquated it's out there in the culture. Like ALRITZ.

@Shamik @Glitch: As to how no one says "This was a Thursday" on an easy Friday, I guess I'm the exception that proves the rule. Just last week I was complaining that Paula Gamache's elegant Christmas Carol puzzle that ran on Friday was more like a Wed. or Thu. puzzle. It ran on Christmas Day due to the theme but it was too straightforward for a Friday. They should have either run it on Xmas Eve or toughened up the clues.

@Tinbeni, welcome aboard... you already seem to know what you're talking about.

@Retired_Chemist: I too wanted something Tom Mix-related on the range.

@Joho (and sorry, everyone else, but please bear with me for a minute or skip over this): Ben Folds once recorded a song called something like "The Battle of Who Cares Less." Today's game was The Battle of Who Gave It Away More. We won that battle and thus lost the game. Five interceptions from a usually steady QB who only threw seven picks all year, and none in his last 110 or so completions of the regular season? (Admittedly, a few were not his fault, e.g. Concannon's drop.) Then Auburn fumbles the ball back to us 4 times, including twice in what should have been clock-running time at the end of regulation? And our usually rock-solid kicker misses two FGs and a PAT and has a lousy day punting? And gets knocked out of the game in OT when we needed him the most? It was mostly spills and a few thrills, but ultimately our second straight season ending with an OT loss in a bowl game. But at least we got there. Proud of our NU 'Cats for an impressive 8-win season in a generally solid Big Ten.

David 4:03 PM  

When the carnage of making every mistake listed by Rex and the people posting above and more - Olive OYL is a headturner I think, I managed to eke out a "win." No Googling, no asking others, simply looking and relooking and guessing, guessing, and more guessing.

Fortunately we had a nice relaxing start to the new year (except for trouble-shooting computer problems - bad omen!)

Happy First Day of the Year to everyone - thanks for the posts that make the art of solving a shared experience.

Bob Kerfuffle 4:23 PM  

This is almost completely irrelevant to the puzzle, but I am hoping that by posting it I can exorcise it from my brain:

When I saw the clue for Valerie PERRINE, I immediately thought of the movie version of Slaughterhouse-Five. A bit of Wikipedia research shows that this was her first credited film role, 1972, and Electric Horseman was just a few years later, 1979.

And my point is . . . lacking.

chefbea 4:34 PM  

@tinbeni welcome to Rexville. I toast you with a scotch...of course

Squeek 4:37 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle, I was right there with you dude on Valerie. Her scenes in Slaughterhouse Five were so red hot and permanently etched in my brain. Bertonelli was the other Valerie that came to me while I was day dreaming.
The rest of the puzzle? I was in over my head. Big high five to those of you who finished without cheating. My head is hanging in shame but another Heineken is about to fix that! Cheers everybody!

chefwen 4:51 PM  

@mirium b - We have a polydactyl also, Tuxedo Maine Coon, his name is Paddington because his feet look like little cooking pads. He's nuts!

Oh yeah, the puzzle, crashed and burned about half way through, came here to stop the brain bleed.

As others have said, things will get better.

Happy New Year to all.

Shamik 4:51 PM  

@Squeak: No shame!!! 1) This was a challenging puzzle. 2) If you google, it's your such thing as cheating...unless you're at the tournament and you use x-ray vision to look at others' papers. ; )

David 4:56 PM  

By the way, did anyone mention the symmetical parting of the RED SEA here? Another miracle! (Albeit Old Testament for this one.)

I'd never hear of Mocha, the place, but this placement just made those answers so right.

Glitch 5:19 PM  

Hi @Ben,

Mine was a "bemused observation", not a "rule".

I studiously avoid the words everybody, nobody, always, never, and similar "absolutes" in my postings.

Prefer some, few, often, seldom, and when all else fails, IM[H]O.

(I actually remembered your comment on the Christmas puzzle, so you get credit for my choice of "mostly").

However, if there is a commenter that fits the "exception that proves the rule" rule, you would be my first choice ;-)

I do enjoy your posts.


michael 5:24 PM  

really hard -- I kept thinking it was Saturday (especially with all the college football). And I didn't finish this and I do eventually get most Saturdays. The SE was so hard for me that I couldn't get some of it even with google and I also missed some of the SW.

If I had gotten MMIX, I'd have done a lot better, but, like others, I had "noon."

SueRohr 5:34 PM  

I like coming here for many reasons, not the least of which is to confirm my opinion of puzzles as easy, medium or in this case very difficult. I spent probably 2 hours on this one, refused to google or ask, and was hugely satisfied to get it all. Sometimes I just stare at the grid for minutes until something pops in my head. The northwest was a killer. Could not get that "ready" was a verb. Never heard of hoodoo or erno.Also clung to idolize for way too long.I could do really well in crossword puzzle contests if there were (subj.?) no time limit. I win for endurance!

Ben 5:45 PM  

@David, I did notice the symmetrically placed RED SEA. Note also below these, the symmetrically placed and identically clued BAL and APR (each a "Credit card statement abbr"). Gorgeous. We are dealing with professionals.

@Glitch, it's always a little dicey to whine about "this was too easy." No one likes a know-it-all. I try to keep that stuff to a minimum and strive to be polite when I do.

But for the record, for every person who found a puzzle too hard, there's someone who felt the opposite. You can't please everyone. When former NYT puzzle editor Eugene T. Maleska would receive a letter complaining that a puzzle was too hard, and another complaining that it was too easy, he would redact the names and send each correspondent the other's letter.

As for me, I'm no Tyler Hinman but I do manage to complete tougher puzzles unassisted, today's being an excellent example. In fact, I'm one of those snobs who just does the puzzles at the end of the week, although around this time of year I should probably start doing them all to limber up for the ACPT. Like @SueRohr, I find the tournament mandate to race through the grid somewhat unfortunate, and not one that adds much to our enjoyment of a puzzle, but it is what it is.

Thanks for the compliment. I enjoy your comments too.

MichaelBlake 5:48 PM  

I miss Acme!

One reason I like to lurk here is to come after solving the NYT and then check to see what middle name she's taken.

I'm fine if a grouch wants to make it "someone else's fault" that he's unhappy, but when it's an "Andrea's fault" thing and it drives her away, we all lose.

I don't mean to drag us back into the muck -- I think we should stay on wordplay, which brings us here. So, back on topic, do you see a geologic feature hidden in my previous paragraph?


Come back, Andrea!

Forhorn Leghorn 5:54 PM  

Why, yes I do, San.

andrea don't worry michael I ain't going nowhere (fast) michaels 9:05 PM  

First puzzle this year I couldn't finish!
I couldn't do half the NW...I didn't even know the Woody Allen clue!!!!!!
so I asked my cats for help.

They got ONEOCAT right away, loved PUMA under MMIX (which they told me stood for Meow Mix),
had ROUGH CATS and changed OFNOUSE
to OFMOUSE. (I fought them on kittens' MITTENS)
We fondly remembered Valerie PURRINE as the stripper/wife (Honey?) in "Lenny".

Small discussion why I never changed VOODOO to HOODOO that you do...HOODOO, who nu?

and minor pedantic musings that "sou" must come from the word "ecu", esp if it had that little squiggle under the c...leading to the Vietnamese coin XU. (Ecu-sou-xu is my Scrabble player version of Tinkers to Evers to Chance).

When I told Koko and Blackjack that I just learned thru the blog that cats have no shoulders, they just shrugged.

Tinbeni 9:21 PM  

First off, mis-posted @2:10

It was the NW that kicked my ass.
NE just fell into place.

Tomorrow is my 1st attempt at a Sat. NYT, based on the comments, I'm aware it can be brutal (fun).

I decided to imbibe some of my 15yo Pinch to spark the braincells.

JannieB 9:57 PM  

Happy new year all - and Andrea - I've been waiting to hear from you all day. You didn't disappoint!

Loved the puzzle - just insanely hard - one of the few had to walk away from. Had the second cup of coffee, breakfast, shower, and then blew through the rest. What a difference an hour makes. Had many of the same stumbling blocks as many of you.

Meanwhile - it's a good football day at our house. We're a mixed marriage (Gator & Seminole) - and if the trend holds, we'll both be winners today! Great start to the year.

Would be remiss if I didn't thank Rex for all he's done to make puzzle solving so much more fun, and to all of you in the blogosphere for sharing so much of yourselves with all of us. I learn from you and laugh with you every day.

sanfranman59 10:12 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:40, 6:55, 0.96, 46%, Medium
Tue 8:51, 8:45, 1.01, 59%, Medium
Wed 11:30, 11:57, 0.96, 46%, Medium
Thu 18:46, 18:56, 0.99, 50%, Medium
Fri 33:42, 26:00, 1.30, 96%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:39, 3:41, 0.99, 54%, Medium
Tue 4:34, 4:29, 1.02, 62%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 5:53, 5:52, 1.00, 57%, Medium
Thu 9:20, 9:08, 1.02, 64%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 17:56, 12:29, 1.44, 97%, Challenging

So much for "Medium Week". This is the 6th most challenging puzzle (relative to the day of the week) for the top 100 solvers (out of 165 puzzles I've tracked) and 7th most challenging for all solvers. These median solve times would place this puzzle in the Medium-Challenging category for a Saturday. Will's gotten the new year started with a bang.

OldCarFudd 10:26 PM  

I must be a masochist, I'm lovin' the pain.

Hand up for noon, wolf, and idolize. But unlike Rex, I thought it got harder as I went counterclockwise. Since I knew withers, the NW corner fell rather quickly, and then I stared at blank white. After 20 minutes of staring I went and did something else. After maybe an hour, I came back and did the SW (loved beefalo). Then more blank staring. Went off and did family stuff for about seven hours, and worked my way from SE to NE after I got home. Lots of guesses, but no googles and, ultimately, no errors. But I was glad to see I was in the solid majority who thought this one was really tough; I would have been devastating to the ego if too many of you had thought it was a breeze.

Best wishes to all for 2010, and many thanks to Rex for this marvelous blog.

slypett 10:36 PM  

Andrea (fast): You made me howl. Meow what?

Anonymous 10:47 PM  

I know this is late, but could someone explain the ALIBABA clue/answer?

(Maybe it's up there somewhere in the posts, but I didn't find it.)

OldCarFudd 10:51 PM  

In the old story of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, there was a cave with some sort of protected entrance. Ali Baba learned that the words "Open Sesame" would open the cave.

AndOnAndOn 10:51 PM  

@Anon 10:47 ALIBABA said "Open Sesame" to get something or other to open, which was his opening statement.

mac 11:11 PM  

@Andrea Fast: the best line today is about cats' shoulders!

andrea omsk michaels 12:06 AM  

@jannieb, @mac, @darkman
thanks. OK, you have been crossed off the list of possible suspects!

I'm watching Charlie Rose doing an hour-long show with snippets from folks who died this year...oops, LAST YEAR (MMIX) and so many I know more from puzzles/blog discussions than from life: Merce Cunningham, Les Paul

Saddest synchronicitous moment for me today:
First pal from my Boston standup days Bob LAZARUS would have been 40 this week.
No miracle there, yet! Maybe bec we're both old testament.

The bittersweet part of this Birthday alarm computer site is that it keeps reminding me about friends' bdays who have recently died.

Very disconcerting to get an email message: "Bob Lazarus's birthday is on Monday January 4th. Bob will be 40 years old. Click below to choose one of our especially recommended birthday greeting cards and we will send it on Bob's birthday..."

I prefer the happier use of this whole internet thingie...i.e. this blog. Happy Healthy New Year!!!

Oh my god, I just realized Bob must have lied about his age when signing up! (Show biz!)

Oh, and (in Bob's honor) doesn't the OMSK clue remind you of that Seinfeld routine about Rochelle Rochelle?

jmorgie 1:40 AM  

I thought 'Mix on the range' referred to cowboy Tom Mix.

fikink 10:37 AM  

A day late and a dollar short, FINALLY finished this New Year's Day puzzle!

These posts are the best read of the morning for me (Jan. 2) and I have been conversing with each one of you in my mind.

@Andrea, the FIL and I were just wondering New Year's Eve if Les Paul was still alive. Thanks for the info.

On to Saturday's puzzle.

Bless you all!

Singer 2:11 PM  

This would have been a great challenging puzzle for New Year's Day, but here 5 weeks later it is Saturday on Friday! Got the whole thing except for the SW - couldn't give up idolize for LIONIZE. But its Friday, and I didn't have time to fight through and came here to put me out of my misery and fill in the last corner. What a corker this one was!

Anonymous 3:14 PM  

The most clueless clues ever! Withers popped right in and woolens and tenancy, thought I was off & runnin'! Ha Ha. Tried to put Shear Madness in, because it really was entirely set in a beauty shop (not enough letters, but it could have been a trick, anyway). Steel Magnolias was NOT. BA-A-AD, not misleading, just outright false! Beefalo began as buffalo, a pot cover is teflon? quite a stretch! And hoodoo should have come up as voodoo. I put a hoodoo on this puzzle and trashed it.

MikeinSTL 1:29 PM  

My experience was the same as Rex -- had an okay time except the NW. STY? That's not fair for a Friday. SkY, sure (ducks and geese fly in the sky, at least...) I, too, wanted NOSE instead of ERNO...

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